Grackle
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Location: Austin, TX 8b

Fukien Tea Literati (possibly?)

Hey, gang. This is my first post. I've had this Fukien Tea for a while now and I'm thinking about styling and or repotting sometime within the next few months. I posted on another forum but it seems when the two words fukien and tea are paired together the only response people will give you is to move it outdoors and that's the end of the story. I keep it in a closet under two 40 watt fluorescent tube bulbs for 16 hours a day. Since I'm in Texas, I leave the air off most of the day and the second you enter the closet it feels muggy and warm, which seems to produce good results for my tree.

My question is, do you think this could make a potential literati style bonsai? I'm thinking that when I repot it i can tilt it at an angle slightly back and to the left/right. Also, maybe I should do an air layer and shorten it to reduce the spiraling trunk? The spiral is evident but not overwhelming, at least I think. Any advice would be appreciated!

(tree on the right)
[img]https://img.photobucket.com/albums/v652/combocvs/06-26-11.jpg[/img]

Grackle
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Location: Austin, TX 8b

Also, I'm kind of becoming somewhat fond of the style it has developed after pruning this spring (late). Maybe I should let sleeping dogs lie?

TomM
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Grackle,

If you have been growing this little Fukien Tea successfully in a 'humid' closet with just the lighting you describe I'm shocked :shock: but I'm not going to tell you to change your methods. My teachers always say "If it works for you keep doing it." I will add this though - air circulation might be a good idea.

On its prospects as a literati (one of my favorite styles) your tree has good bones. The spiraling trunk gives it the wicked movement that is admirable with literati. I would not consider layering. I believe that hard pruning at the top - but leaving some dead wood - and also along the main branch would improve the lines. It appears to have a small first branch on an inside curve. It may need to go. Try to develop more downward growing tips - less upward.

Bending branches by wiring is very difficult with the stiff woody Fukien Tea. But new green shoots can be gently air-wired into position once you learn how. Otherwise 'clip-and-grow' is your only alternative.

I like what you have started here. Keep us posted as it progresses, and WELCOME to the bonsai forum.

kdodds
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LOL, hey Grackle, didn't I just give them enough to think about in like three or four other threads to just leave you be and at least try to help you? I guess not. Last I checked, they were down again last night, but I haven't checked this morning, so I'll answer here first and there when I can.

Yes, I agree with Tom, this tree has a LOT of BunJin (Literati) potential. BunJin is being used more and more frequently, so I use it here. Anyway, I agree, the lowest branchlet would have to go. The next branch, on the right, would need some thinning and wiring (careful when bending, as already suggested, go in small increments, I mean like millimeters, rather than all at once). The top, as well, will need wiring as it's currently more or less a straight like that doesn't hold with the rest of the trees lines. If you don't want to keep the right branch (up to you), I would still "keep it" by shaping it, stripping ir of leaves, and keeping it clean of new growth but for maybe a leaf or two at the tips.

HTH. And, definitely good luck, don't look at it the wrong way or snezze in its direction or it might just decide to die to spite your success. They're not quite as bad as say, Serrissa, but Fukiens are pretty finicky. If you're not in zone, anyway, moving outdoors is a moot point. IMO, with this species, stability is MUCH more important than a few months in very strong light. IF you moved it outside, you'd have a whole other mess to contend with, not the least of which is Fukiens reputation for attracting every bug in the neighborhood, never even mind the stress of relocating twice (now and in the fall/winter).

Grackle
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Location: Austin, TX 8b

Thank you KDodds and TomM! I appreciate the time and effort you have both put into looking and thinking about this newbie's tree! I'm not sure how humid it actually is in there as I don't have anything to measure it with but it sure does feel like a little rainforest in there. The uppermost branch, I agree, does not fit well. It's kind of like putting polka dots with stripes. I'll slowly try to trim it back and attempt to develop some new shoots that would eventually become a new twisting leader that would blend more naturally with the tree's shape.

I will also attempt, to style the branches downward, as TomM suggested. The problem I'm having lately is that the lights are set up directly above the leaves and they tend to reach straight for the light. I might have to mount some more (perhaps the T5HO) lighting on the sides of the wall in order to develop some budding/leaflets in other directions than straight up.

Thanks again for both of your input! I truly appreciate it!

kdodds
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If you utilize T5HOs you may find that the "reaching" the tree is doing is less under the far more intense lighting.

Grackle
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I'm not sure, but perhaps the water heater for my apartment, which is located in the closet as well, is creating the humid environment? This is the only somewhat rational guesstimation I have.

kdodds
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Do you have a hygrometer in there? Otherwise, it's very easy to overestimate humidity for most people. If you don't, most pet stores that deal in reptiles will have small dial/analog hygrometers that I've found to be pretty darn accurate, for about $5 or so.

Grackle
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Just thought I'd update my thread after viewing mdougl's. I repotted the tree at a better angle and into a more free draining soil as it was developing a fungus gnat problem. In reality, I probably should have let it be, but that darn newbie itch to do something overwhelmed me. It's at a different angle now and has put out some new shoots which is promising. Like I said in mdougl's thread I plan on transitioning it to the outdoors to see how it reacts once we get some temperatures that don't resemble planet Mercury. Oh! and it also put out a new shoot right near where the trunk chop was done. You can kind of see it (the little shoot behind the long shoot in the foreground) and I plan on trying to make it flow more with the main trunk once it starts to harden and lengthen more. Time will tell and I've learned from my newbie urge to make drastic changes. Let's just hope that the tree keeps on keepin' on.

[img]https://img.photobucket.com/albums/v652/combocvs/IMG_0163.jpg[/img]
Last edited by Grackle on Thu Aug 11, 2011 5:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

Grackle
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Posts: 11
Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2011 2:44 am
Location: Austin, TX 8b

Also, since I've been keeping it indoors, I created a pretty vulgar stand out of storage tubs so that I don't have to move my trees around when watering, which helps avoid creating a mess. I cut drainage holes into the lids of the storage tubs right below where the drainage holes in the bonsai pots are. This allows the water to flow into the tubs and has cut down the movement of the pots to about once every two weeks when I drain the tubs. I can't say for sure if the tubs of water are also doubling as a humidity tray but either way, I'm seeing positive results. It seems to be working somewhat more efficiently than moving them around constantly to water them.

kdodds
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Hopefully it takes to its newest repot well. Just an FYI, Bt treatments work well for fungus gnat problems in richer soils. Looking good!

Grackle
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Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2011 2:44 am
Location: Austin, TX 8b

Thanks Kdodds! I'll check out BT treatments as my two indoor bonsai Have been having an ongoing struggle in the fight against the annoying fungus gnat.

kdodds
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It's Bacillus thurigiensis <sp?> solution, you prepare it per the label and soak (preferably) or water with it. Controlling fungus gnats in richer soils, even in crowded indoor conditions, becomes a LOT easier. You'll have to get Bt for fungus gnats though, the same strain that works for, say, mosquitoes, may not work for gnats.

luigonz
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the way i deal with gnats is cups of water around the pots, yellow cups attract more. the simple fall in and drown!! its a free solution, but you have to get at the larva, aka the BT solution or let the soil dry more between waterings, they need moister to live!!

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